American Airlines has a new dining service called Flagship First Dining and it is worth the hype. Gourmet-quality food served in a restaurant setting with top-shelf cocktails made to order. I’ve previously reviewed Flagship First Dining at JFK and was blown away, recently I had the chance to test out Flagship First Dining at LAX to see how it would compare.
Who can access Flagship First Dining?
Note: this is different from the dining room in the DFW Terminal D Admiral’s Club.
You must be traveling in Flagship First Class aboard an American Airlines operated and marketed international flight. You also qualify if you’re traveling in First Class on American’s three-class transcontinental service between JFK-SFO or JFK-LAX. You don’t get access as an Executive Platinum/Oneworld Emerald status holder, it is exclusively for passengers traveling in international First Class on an American Airlines flight that day.
There’s a lot of confusion around this, so please reread the previous paragraph so you know whether or not you’ll qualify on your next trip.
Now, on to Flagship First Dining!
When you access the Flagship Lounge at LAX (as I detail here) and have access to Flagship First Dining you will be escorted to the dining room by a lounge attendant. The dining room is on the smaller side but with the exclusive access rules I cannot imagine it ever being crowded.
The Flagship First Dining Room
The dining room has a variety of seating options, from booths to tables and even a standing area by the bar.
The bar is expansive and, in my opinion, a bit much, since so few will use it. But the setting is gorgeous, especially with the archway looking down into the terminal and across into the Flagship Lounge.
I sat down at a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows for some wonderful tarmac views.
I arrived to the dining room at about 10:30am during the breakfast service. I was presented with two menus, one for food and the other for drinks.
Since everything is complimentary and I wanted to get a good sampling (you know, for my readers), I ordered a few cocktails, again, for science. I chose the Japanese Whiskey Sour, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned, and they went ahead and made me an Agave Cooler as well since they figured I was taste testing them (what with the cameras and all).
My drinks were delivered promptly. Just for the record, it was about 11am when I got the drinks, so about 1pm my local time, so don’t get all judgy, a little judgy should be sufficient.
So, next time you think I don’t care about my readers, remember this picture and how much I care about yall, to test these fantastic cocktails.
In order of favorite: Japanese Whiskey Sour, Agave Cooler, Oaxacan Old Fashioned, but all three were excellent.
For breakfast I ordered the steak, egg, and frites, mainly because steak egg and frites. For sides I requested some bacon and the hand-formed chorizo sausage, again mainly because bacon and sausage.
A short time later my enormous breakfast arrived, and oh my goodness.
Poaching an egg is freaking hard. This poached egg was flawless.
The egg was perfect, the frites were perfect, and the steak (a smaller portion, admittedly) was perfect.
The manager on duty came by to make sure everything was going well and I gave the meal incredibly high marks. He then asked if I’d like to try anything from the all-day menu, since we had progressed into lunchtime. Why sure I would!
I’m a sucker for a good braised pork belly, and the all-day menu featured braised pork belly with a sweet potato puree and deep-fried cauliflower. Yes and amen.
The dish was simple and glorious. The pork belly fat was rendered beautifully with just enough char on it to add some texture and separate it from the texture of the sweet potato puree. The deep-fried cauliflower sounded like something Texas would come up with but I was pleasantly surprised. The batter was light and crispy, not doughy at all. Out of everything I tried I think I liked this the most. At least I thought I did until I got to dessert.
I asked my waiter which dessert people like the best and she replied that the panna cotta had just received great reviews from a celebrity (not going to mention her name for privacy reasons) who was sitting across from me (I had no idea she was there). Panna cotta is a surprisingly technical dish so I was eager to try it out.
What an absolute joy. The panna cotta was set perfectly and the lavender seeds added a little bit of tartness. The heavy cream, bread, and honeycomb were wonderful touches. It was the perfect ending to an unbelievable dining experience.
The Flagship First Dining experience was almost too good to be true. It’s very exclusive, to the point where the cynic in me wonders how long American will be able to keep it up. I hope it lasts for a long time because it really sets American apart from their competition, even the venerated Qantas First Class Lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. I would put the quality of the experience up against The Pier in Hong Kong and that’s my favorite lounge in the entire world!
I’ll put it very simply: if you have access to Flagship First Dining, go. Get to the airport early for it. Enjoy it. Flagship First Dining has no domestic equal and American should be very proud of this incredible experience.